THE CATHOLIC HERALD JUNE 27 2014
British ISIS fighters went to a Catholic sixth form
BY ED WEST
A LEADING anti-extremist group has urged Catholic schools to take a firmer approach to Islamist radicalisation after it emerged that two former Catholic school pupils in Cardiff have joined ISIS in Iraq.
Reyaad Khan, who went to Cantonian High School and St David’s Catholic College in Cardiff, was seen last week holding a gun in a video for the jihadist group, which has taken control of northern Syria and Iraq, massacring Shia and imposing oppressive conditions on Christians.
Alongside him in the video is another former pupil of St David’s Catholic College, 20-year-old Nasser Muthana, who also ran off to fight in the war, followed by his younger brother Aseel, 17.
Khan, described by friends as a quiet, studious boy, is one of an estimated 400 British-born Muslims to have joined the increasingly sectarian fight in the Middle East, a holy war against “heretical” Shia.
Despite the two ISIS fighters having known each other at school, radicalisation of young men in Britain was taking place through a network of radical mosques and online groups. The parents of the Cardiff men accused extremists of “brainwashing” their sons, while a spokesman for Cardiff University told the BBC that there was now a particular problem of extremism in the area.
On a national level, though, Haras Rafiq of the Muslim anti-extremist think tank the Quilliam Foundation said the practice of countering Islamist extremism “applies to every school”, even Catholic ones.
“One of the first tell-tale signs for Islamist extremism is racism,” Mr Rafiq said: “It’s about hostility towards someone of a different faith, sexuality or people not practising their religion. We need to help school teachers look out for tell-tale signs by preventing recruiters implementing their values among the children. In Islam there is a concept called Al Wala’ Wal Bara’ - ‘Loyalty and enmity for the sake of God’. If you have Muslims at Catholic schools they probably go to a madrassa after school for two hours, and the messages that the school gives them may be negated by what they are taught there, where youngsters may be told people of the faith must fight the other. Or if they can’t fight them, debate them, or at least hate them.”
He added that anti-Semitism was also a warning sign schools should watch out for. “Anti-Semitism is not in the DNA of Islam but it is in the DNA of Islamism.”
Mr Muthana had taken £100 from his father to go to an Islamic seminar in Shrewsbury in November, but instead ran off to the Middle East. Three months later his brother left home for a night saying he was going to a friend’s house, but instead left for Cyprus, from where he went to Syria. His Yemeni father told the press that he was devastated by their behaviour, and that the boys had betrayed Britain, a country he had found safety and security in.
Mr Khan and Mr Muthana are not the first Catholic-educated men from Britain to be suspected of extremism. In 2003 Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal were held at Camp X-Ray by the US authorities on suspicion of terrorist activities. The two men had attended the Sacred Heart Primary School in Tipton.
The two men, along with another suspect, were known as the Tipton Three and were released in 2004 after filing habeas corpus. They later unsuccessfully tried to sue Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary for Defence.
Most successful and failed suicide bombers from Britain have been former pupils of secular schools, among them the four men who carried out the July 7
Clockwise from top: Rayeed Khan and Nasser Muthana in a recent video; ISIS supporters in northern Iraq; St David’s Catholic college, Cardiff PA/AP
atrocities in 2005, and the two perpetrators of the attack on Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv in 2003, the first suicide bomb attack by British Muslims.
Mr Rafiq said teachers of Religious Education, when confronted with Islamist ideas, should be given the historical and theological knowledge to counter them.
He said: “Stoning for homosexuality or death for apostasy, these punishments come under the Hudood laws. These were recognised by the early scholars of jurisprudence, because these were the normative rules of society at the time. The Ottomans repealed the Hudood laws 200 years ago, in 1839, decriminalising homosexuality, and they also gave people the ability to convert away from Islam. If a teacher knew about this, they would be able to counter the Islamist narrative. But a teacher also needs to point out these views are unacceptable in Britain.”
The Catholic Church at the moment has no national strategy for combating extremism in schools. But Marie Southall, speaking on behalf of the Catholic Education Service, said: “Catholic schools welcome those from other faiths and none, as places of respect and tolerance. As an integrated part of their local community,
Catholic schools foster cohesion between minority groups and provide a safe space for pupils to learn about faith and experience a broad and balance curriculum. Local dioceses are best placed to understand the complexities of their local community and how best their schools can serve them.” Editorial comment: Page 13
Cardinal backs call by judge for re-think on religious liberty
BY STAFF REPORTER
THE JUDGE who ruled against Christian B&B owners for turning away a gay couple has said she may have been wrong.
Last week Supreme Court deputy president Baroness Hale called for a re-think on religious freedom of conscience six months after she rejected the B&B owners’ arguments in a key test case.
Cardinal Cormac MurphyO’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, welcomed her comments in a letter to the Telegraph, saying the law had in recent years done “too little to protect the beliefs of Christians and the legitimate freedoms of Christian organisations”.
He cited the closure of Catholic adoption agencies following the Sexual Orientation Regulations which compelled them to offer their services to same-sex couples. He said the closure of the agencies had been a “sad loss”.
The B&B case came to court after a gay couple, Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall, sued Christian hoteliers Peter and Hazelmary Bull for refusing to give them a double room at their Cornish hotel in 2008.
In the Supreme Court Lady Hale, leading four judges, ruled against
Jesuits reward film student with Hollywood trip
Catholics mourn sister of L’Arche founder
Mr Bull, 74, and his 70-year-old wife, who had fallen foul of Labour’s anti-discrimination laws. Lady Hale had declared in her Supreme Court ruling that we should be “slow to accept” the right of Christians to discriminate against gay people.
But in a speech last week she suggested that her judgment in the case may have been too harsh, and that courts might be better off taking a “more nuanced approach”. Lady Hale also suggested that the law should develop a “conscience clause” for Christians in similar situations.
She said: “I am not sure our law has found a reasonable accommodation of all these different strands. An example of treatment which Christians may feel to be unfair is the recent case of Bull v Hall. Should we be developing an explicit requirement upon providers of employment, goods and services to make reasonable accommodation for the manifestation of religious beliefs?”
Back in March Lady Hale also acknowledged that laws which ignore Christian consciences might not be “sustainable”.
The Bulls almost sold their hotel, Chymorvah House in Marazion, last year, but managed to stay afloat after being helped by sympathisers. Last week Lady Hall and her fellow judges ordered that the Bulls should not be liable for legal costs, sparing them from having to pay for Mr Preddy’s and Mr Hall’s lawyers.
Mrs Bull told the Daily Mail: “The pendulum has swung too far one way. Why can’t two lifestyles live together? It is too late for us, but we are glad the issue hasn’t gone away.”
BY ED WEST
A SECOND-YEAR student of film-making at Manchester Metropolitan University has won a trip to Hollywood after winning a competition to make a film on the subject of faith.
Harriet Edwards was selected from students across the north of England who entered films into a pilot competition mounted by the Insight Film Festival. She wins an expenses-paid trip to Hollywood and a six-week internship with Loyola Productions, a non-profit organisation that seeks to “continue the Jesuit tradition of innovation and excellence in the communication arts”.
Miss Edwards chose to film a personalised interpretation of a biblical psalm.
She said: “I took the opportunity to express how I see the world. It’s to do with self-discovery and finding yourself, and trying to find a voice.”
Among the judges were Fr Tim Byron of Manchester University’s Catholic Chaplaincy, one of the competition’s sponsors.
Miss Edwards, 21, wrote her five-minute film based around Psalm 46: 10: Be still and know I’m God.”
She said: “I live away from home and its do with when you’re in university life and you’re surrounded by different things and distractions and it’s easy to feel you’ve
Harriet Edwards moved away from God. The film is about discovering yourself as a person, it’s all done to a monologue in her head but is later revealed to be a prayer. She leaves the house in the morning and it’s very messy, a horrible student house, and she goes for a walk.
“I wanted to put across the idea that Jesus is a friend to her, almost as if the camera is the other person she’s talking to. It’s asks the question of whether you need silence to hear God.”
Miss Edwards, an Anglican, attends St Mary’s church in Sale, and has one more year left of film-making at university. She will travel to California on July 3 and watch the following day’s Independence Day celebration before spending six weeks on the internship.
The Insight Film Festival was set up in 2007 to encourage film-making around the subject of faith.
BY ALEXANDER JOLLIFFE
COLLEAGUES have praised Thérèse Vanier, a consultant at a major London teaching hospital who has died aged 91.
Dr Vanier, the sister of Jean Vanier, who set up a charity called L’Arche to care for people, many of whom have disabilities, was motivated by her faith to resign in 1972 from her post as a consultant at St Thomas’s Hospital, London, to found L’Arche UK.
She also worked part-time at St Christopher’s Hospice, London, where she worked with and became a friend of Dame Cicely Saunders, an Anglican who established the hospice movement.
Dr Vanier won praise for her work at St Christopher’s. Dr Balfour Mount, who holds the Order of Canada for his work in the field, spoke of the “greatest lesson” he had learned from Thérèse Vanier. Dr Mary Baines, emeritus consultant at St Christopher’s, paid tribute to her “very high standards” and added that Dr Vanier “had a great influence on doctors in training and on ... many visitors”.
A Catholic and an ecumenist, she founded several L’Arche communities in Britain, Ireland and Denmark.
Hazel Bradley at L’Arche paid tribute to her rigour, admitting that “she could be quite scary”.
She added that Dr Vanier “loved to accompany people with disabilities”.
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